ECB fiercely defend the Hundred at DCMS hearing amid claims from MPs that it will ‘cannibalise’ other forms of cricket in England
The ECB launched a staunch defence of the Hundred in the face of a grilling by MPs on concerns it will ‘cannibalise’ other forms of English cricket.
But chief executive Tom Harrison refused six requests by Jo Stevens MP to disclose the budget for the Hundred or what has been spent on the format so far.
Ex-ECB board member Andy Nash claimed in a second panel that the Hundred would cost ‘£60m to put on'.
It was at this point that the ECB did belatedly choose to disclose the budget, telling Sportsmail that the year-one budget is ‘£40m, with revenue of £50m’.
Tom Harrison, CEO of the ECB during Day Four of the Specsavers County Championship
It is understood their figure does not include a distribution of £1.3m to each first class county, though some argue those payments should come into the budget calculations.
Harrison’s unwillingness to speak openly about the budget was a low point for the ECB in the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport hearing, which lasted over three hours.
Another low may well have been that several fans appeared in Westminster wearing t-shirts emblazoned with the words ‘Oppose the 100’, though they were later instructed to removed these.
The hearing covered a range of matters including gambling, the uptake of cricket among women and girls and free-to-air coverage.
Chairman of the England and Wales Cricket Board Colin Graves poses for a head shot in 2017
Yet a large proportion of the session was spent on picking apart the ECB’s plans for the Hundred.
ECB chairman Colin Graves told the committee that the new concept had not been ‘imposed’ on the game and there had been ‘huge consultation’.
‘It is not a threat to the county game, it is a far greater threat to rest on our laurels and think that everything is rosy in our garden,’ he said.
Harrison, meanwhile, said: ‘To say it has not been properly consulted is incorrect’.
He said one measure of success for the Hundred would be that it ‘does not impact in any way or cannibalise the great work that has been done in the T20 Blast’.
Other measures will include digital engagement, ticket sales and attendance figures.
However, the ECB’s claims on the scale of the consultation, including votes for each county member, were doubted in a later panel.
Joe Root of Trent Rockets looks on as he is interviewed during The Hundred Draft last week
Indeed, Nash said that he had been contacted by many fans who said they had not been consulted.
‘This has the potential to split the game and bankrupt the game,’ he said. ‘Clearly it is going to damage the other three formats'.
Becky Fairlie-Clarke, co-founder of the Cricket Supporter’s Association, said that there was a split in opinion among cricket fans and ‘polarised’ views.
On the issue of capitalising on the England's Cricket World Cup win this summer, Ian Lucas MP pointed to 'concerning' falling participation figures in the wake of the 2005 Ashes win.
'I wonder how many Ben Stokes we lost in that period,' he said.